Dr. David Bradstreet and Steve Rabey
Zondervan, 2016. 312pp.
Star Struck is an overview of the universe in which we live. Bradstreet—who calls himself a theistic creationist (p. 38)—is professor and chair of the Astronomy and Physics Department at Eastern University and a Christian. He takes us on a brief tour of astronomy, historical figures in science, our galactic neighborhood, the Milky Way, and where scientific exploration might be heading. Among its 23 chapters are Our Cosmic Creator, Our Goldilocks World, Cosmological Confusion, Brother Son and Sister Moon, and Your Ticket to the Stars.
Bradstreet and Rabey do a good job of making astronomy and cosmology accessible for the non-technical reader. Of special interest to Christians is their review of how science was advanced in centuries past by the work of Christians. Stories of Johannes Kepler and Galileo, as well as the first astronomer to postulate the Big Bang, Fr. George Lemaître remind us the war between science and scripture is largely exaggerated.
However, Star Struck is not an apologetic for Young Earth Creationism; the authors hold to a billions-of-years-old universe. One chapter (Showing Our Age) shows the problems in Archbishop James Usher’s theory of a 6,000 year old universe. In another, Bradstreet recounts how he addresses his first year astronomy students, many of whom are 6-day creationists:
I’m not going to attack your deepest beliefs and values…but you are university students taking a university-level science class.
Science involves analyzing and comparing different theories to find the best one, so I will expect you to learn about the ‘other side’ of various topics. This also will help you know what you’re talking about when you try to share or defend your beliefs. (pg. 126)
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
One challenge non-scientific pastors face is keeping up with the advances in scientific knowledge. When preaching on creation, depending solely on reference books or popular volumes written even ten years ago may see us rebutting arguments no one is making or outdated stats. This book can help as a reference when preaching in Genesis 1 and 2, or the Psalms, or when addressing how Christians engage culture. Quotes like this one are helpful to establish some bona fides when addressing creation:
Our own Milky Way galaxy is home to more than 200 billion stars. There are more than 200 billion additional galaxies in the cosmos. These galaxies serve as gigantic star factories, each of which has its own 100 to 300 billion stars. Do the mat and the numbers are mind-boggling: our Sun is merely one among some 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. (pg. 297)
Or this one in the chapter Our Goldilocks World:
Few of us ever stop to think about the power of plants, but a recent column in the New York Times hailed them for being ‘as close to biological miracles as scientist could dare admit…[they] produce oxygen, build topsoil and hold it in place, prevent floods, sequester carbon dioxide, buffer extreme weather and clean our water.’ (pg. 59)
Theological concepts like General and Specific Revelation are expanded when considering Kepler’s “two books,” the Bible and creation. A founding father of the scientific revolution, Kepler wrote: “I have been made priest of God, the creator of the book of nature. I have composed this hymn for God the creator.” (pg. 101)
Bradstreet challenges Christians to become more involved in astronomy and to simply pay more attention to the heavens to “take in God’s handiwork” (pg. 286). Like Kepler, he truly believes the heavens declare the glory of God.
Star Struck is an easy read with plenty of pop-culture references and, if you have a scientist or amateur astronomer in your church, could be a good text for a small group study.
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